An Iranian-born Canadian citizen trying to board a plane was arrested Sunday morning, after bomb-making materials were discovered in his carry-on bag.
A routine inspection found that 71 year old Antony Piazza, who changed his name 27 years ago from Houshang Nazemi, had materials in the pull-out handle of his carry-on that could be used to make an explosive charge.
The incident occurred at Montreal-Pierre Elliot Trudeau International Airport where Piazza was attempting to board a Los Angeles bound plane.
Montreal police are puzzled by the suspect’s motives. The New York Times reported a statement released by the police on Monday noting he had no accomplice, nor was he working on behalf of any organization.
Louis P. Morena, Piazza’s lawyer, says his client told him he was carrying the bag for someone else, without specifying whom.
Morena, speaking to reporters, said regarding the material Piazza was carrying: “They’re talking about bullets, they’re talking about powder, they’re talking about wire, they’re talking about briquette.”
Hours after the arrest, police searched Piazza’s apartment in the LaSalle neighborhood of Montreal, as reported by website Shalom Toronto. Part of the neighborhood was closed by police for several hours during the investigation.
Piazza is charged with possession of explosives, attempting to bring explosives on a civilian plane, and disturbing public order. If found guilty he is liable to serve up to 10 years in prison.
This is not the first run-in with the law for the Iranian immigrant. In 1985, he was given ten years’ imprisonment for smuggling heroin, and in 1992 he was found guilty of fraud.
In a 2006 interview with Montreal-based French-language newspaper La Presse, Piazza, going by his original name of Nazemi, said he fled Iran in 1979 to escape the Islamic Revolution, and in Montreal opened a video rental store for fellow exiles nostalgic for the days of the Shah.